By Salem Ali.
Tripoli, 4 March 2015:
Islamic State (IS) fighters have pulled out of the Bahi and Dahra oilfields less than 24 . . .[restrict]hours after capturing them and Petroleum Facilities Guards (PFG) are now back in control, Ali Al-Hassi, the spokesman for the central region PFG has told the Libya Herald. He said that that before leaving, however, IS had set the fields and equipment ablaze. There was not much more to them now than ashes, he noted.
He also said he thought the reason for IS’s abrupt departure was that it probably feared it would be an easy target for LNA fighter planes if it stayed.
Earlier he had claimed that the reason the PFG had pulled out of the oilfields was because they were running out of ammunition. He pledged at that point that his forces would be back in the fields by tomorrow. In the event, they appear to have been able to return earlier without a fight.
He also claimed that Misratan forces had joined with IS in the attacks. However, he did not name any Misratan units.
He told this newspaper that he believed IS was planning to attack other oilfields and destroy them.
Two days ago, just before the oilfield attacks, he had warned that Operation Sunrise, the largely Misratan force dispatched by Libya Dawn in mid-December to seize the Sidra and Ras Lanuf terminals, were planning imminent new attacks on both the terminals and oilfields. The aim, he had said, was not to capture the terminals but to destroy them and deny the Beida-based government any oil income.
IS is now seen as being able to move freely in much of the open desert area from Sirte heading south and as well as east towards Sidra. It already controls the strategically important town of Nawfaliya, east of Sirte and just off the main coast road. Fearing that it might be the next place to be captured, Marada (190 kilometers south west of Brega) has now appealed for help to protect it. [/restrict]